From Publishers Weekly
When a lone septuagenarian is murdered in his apartment in the Nordurmýri district of Reykjavík, detective inspector Erlendur Sveinsson is called in, along with partner Sigurdur Óli and female colleague Elínborg. Everyone is related to everyone else in Iceland and refer to one another by first name, even formally. Erlendur is about 50, long divorced, with two kids in varying degrees of drug addiction. The victim, a man called Holberg, turns out to have been a nasty piece of work, and Erlendur is disgusted by the series of rapes Holberg apparently committed. The rapes and the deaths of a number of young women may be connected, and the search brings Erlendur to the forensic lab, whose old "jar city," since disbanded, held research organs. Meanwhile, Erlendur's daughter, Eva Lind, is pregnant and still using; she flits in and out of his life angrily, but may be crying out for help. Reykjavík's physicality, and the fact that crimes are relatively rare in Iceland, gives things a defamiliarizing cast. The writing, plot and resolution are nicely done, but remain fully within genre boundaries. (Oct. 11)
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It's hardly surprising that there is a thriving crime-fiction scene in Iceland (insular worlds with forbidding climates breed crime quite nicely); it is surprising, on the other hand, that it's taken until now for any Icelandic mysteries to penetrate the U.S. market. We're off to a fast start with this gripping procedural starring Inspector Erlendur Sveinnson, a veteran detective with the Reykjavik police. Murder is relatively rare in Reykjavik, and it is usually solved easily (crimes of passion are the norm). This time, though, there are no easy answers. The brutal killing of a lonely pensioner seems inexplicable until Erlendur (Icelanders always address one another by first name) begins to track back through the man's life, uncovering not only a plethora of dirty secrets but also a genealogical trail whose tentacles appear to stretch throughout the country (in Iceland, "everyone seemed related or connected in some way"). There is a Ross Macdonald element to all this rummaging in familial closets, but the emotional pain Erlendur feels as he gets closer to the truth recalls Madeleine Nabb and Donna Leon. A powerful, psychologically acute procedural drama. Bill OttCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved